So today I had my first real French lesson.
The ‘not from a lonely planet phrasebook’ kind. Those are incredibly useful but if I want to have real life discussions, I need to extend my vocabulary past “une baguette s’il vous plait”.
I’ve only been with my French (now) husband for 7 years. Call me an avoider. It’s a difficult language and I’m a big chicken. There, I said it. Just too scared to fail because I suck at languages. My other half is the polar opposite, he’s a language sponge.He speaks a few of them. Sometimes I switch off when he talks about the “langue”. He doesn’t know this because I never let my eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m joking, sort of.
All jokes aside, there are very good reasons for me to learn.
Here’s my motivation list ….
- So I understand when my husband is talking bad things about me to my son, like “mummy won’t let you eat that chocolate, she said no”. That’s a diplomatic example.
- As above except applied to the in-laws. You feeling me?!
- Employment. Even though there’s a buhzillion foreigners in Paris who everyone tells me “seem to have easily landed English speaking jobs not speaking a word of the language” – well, I am not one of those “lucky” ones.
- So I can say more than “putain” or “conard” when some ar*ewipe fails to adhere to basic road rules, like stopping at a pedestrian crossing while my son is on it! (that really gets up my goat). Insulting people politely and with a larger vocabulary seems important here. I need to get on that train.
- For myself. It’s a slow and painful death living in a foreign country with a language barrier. I need to expand my circle. My daily conversation revolves around “get your finger out your nose” and “no, you can’t have any chocolate” and my personal favourite, “how many times have I asked you not to do that?!” Nooooooooo.
Back to my lesson …
One tram and four metro station changes later I make it to my teachers hood. Remember I live just outside of the peripherique, so going to the westside of Paris is like a day trip for me. I’m doing one-on-one lessons. We go to a local bar. I’m ensured it’s quiet. This is important as I sure as hell don’t want people listening to me.
I’ve learned a quiet bar in Paris is like a Friday afternoon knock-off drinks. Quiet, not quiet. Apparently it’s the a new cool thing to have your lessons out and about, submerged in the Parisian way. The only thing I was submerged in was phonetics, grammar and conjugation. Up to my eyeballs.
Kudos to my lovely tutor though (I’ll call her M), she kept her voice on the low down and leaned into me so I didn’t have to speak very loud. Bless her. M is ace and her French (for a native Italian) is excellent. M speaks four languages fluently. Puts me to shame. So much shame. M was very patient with me and made me feel really comfortable so after a while I didn’t give a rats bottom who heard me. M was very encouraging of my pronunciation, overall status and ability to progress. Felt pretty chuffed after my 2 hours came to an end.
Feeling pretty confident I can nail this. I’ll keep you posted!